• 3 Ways to Keep Attendees Happy

     
    POSTED June 19, 2018
     

    Meetings today must be fun and memorable and have little resemblance to the old-style format. 

It used to be that business meetings and conferences were boring, rote affairs where attendees, armed with laptops or pads of paper, sat quietly taking notes and not interacting much with their fellow colleagues. The lectures were long and not engaging, the food and coffee were lackluster, and meeting and following up with other attendees was difficult.

Today, attendees are demanding that meetings be fun and memorable. They want their conferences and business events to be more personal and interactive, with meeting spaces that allow more opportunities for networking and content that is short, succinct and easy to share. 

Making Meeting Spaces More User-Friendly

In my position as director of event management at Denver Hilton Inverness, I meet regularly with corporate meeting and event planners looking for rooms and layout configurations that are flexible and can be quickly and easily adjusted based on the changing needs of their gatherings. Planners are opting for meeting rooms that can efficiently become think tanks with comfortable seating options that feature built-in writing and typing surfaces. Having easily divisible spaces also facilitates meetings where groups can congregate together or break apart into smaller groups if needed. 

Outside of dedicated meeting rooms used for presentations and lectures, planners also are looking for informal meeting spaces such as networking areas and communal workspaces where attendees can interact. Not only do these areas set the stage for collaborative thinking and planning, they also help to personalize the attendees’ experiences and provide for activities and interactions with others that can increase the value of the meeting. 

Delivering and Sharing Short, Concise Meeting Content

Long conference meetings and lecture sessions not only take attendees away from their offices, they create content that’s not easy to digest or share. Instead, planners are opting for more condensed, short sessions with content that’s succinct and to the point. 

Often, companies have conference attendees who can’t physically be there for the meeting. To accommodate these attendees, many conference venues have upgraded their interactive video, audio and screen-sharing technology and utilize the cloud to connect team members around the world. There are also digital sharing apps and platforms that help meetings be more interactive and collaborative and less content-focused.

F&B as Networking Opportunities

In the past, the food and beverage component of conferences and meetings was not a tactical choice. But today, the added focus on networking has made planners approach breaks and meals as opportunities for collaborating and making connections, which enriches the experience and value for all attendees. 

Instead of large, seated banquet-style dinners, we’re getting more requests for flexible reception-style meals with interactive food stations featuring on-trend, healthy dishes. Also, attendees today have a wide variety of food preferences, allergies and diets, and venues must upgrade their selections accordingly to provide a range of offerings, including vegetarian and vegan options. 

The same holds true for breaks during meeting sessions. Rather than short 10-minute breaks, planners are lengthening them and asking venues to provide upgraded coffee options such as cold brews and lattes and creative food presentations where attendees can connect and network.  

 

Julie Finn is director of event management at Hilton Denver Inverness. She oversees conference services, catering and A/V and personally manages every meeting on the property. She has worked with five Presidents, many heads of states and countless celebrities. 

In 2020, Houston First Corp. (HFC) reported that the city was slated to host 252 meetings and 611,000 room nights. By March 14, the Bayou City had already hosted 115 conventions and 137,400 room nights. Then the pandemic hit, and meetings and events across the country came to a screeching halt.

We asked Michael Heckman, acting president and CEO of Houston First Corp. (HFC) how the health crisis has influenced the organization’s business model moving forward.

 

Chances are, you won’t know you’re living through history until it’s too late. It’s already happening. A chain reaction has been set in motion and the ground has begun to slide beneath your feet.

This past year has been a whirlwind to say the least. As a global pandemic sent the world reeling, planners were left grasping for footholds as the event industry was brought to a standstill, and many of the most fundamental elements of live meetings and events were cast in a new light.

 

Whether a team is still working from home, or has made a phased return to the office, the past few months have seemed monotonous with not as many in-person meetings and events to break up work weeks. Meeting with a group boosts motivation, and Zoom meetings can’t compare when it comes to rallying morale. After months at home, planning small meetings and corporate getaways away from home is a great way to motivate and revitalize a team’s performance–especially when the destination provides all of the benefits that Colorado offers.